China's top steelmaker, Baosteel Group, aims to boost cooperation with Australian iron ore producer Fortescue Metals Group Ltd (FMG.AX), a senior executive said on Thursday, although officials gave no clear indications on the possibility of an equity tie.

Xu Lejiang, chairman of Baosteel Group, told reporters that the companies had been talking about cooperation for several years.

Baosteel, parent of listed Baoshan Iron & Steel Co Ltd (600019.SS), already has agreements to buy iron ore from Fortescue mines that opened this year and has long been rumoured as a potential investor in Fortescue.

Asked whether his company would consider buying into Fortescue, Xu told reporters: It's not up to me. It's up to whether we can see eye to eye on a number of things, including common goals, development strategy and market positioning.

Baosteel executives spoke with reporters at an event to mark receipt of their first shipment of Fortescue iron ore.

Deputy General Manager Dai Zhihao said: We will continue to seek wider cooperation (with Fortescue) in the future.

Chinese business magazine Caijing reported earlier this month that Baosteel was in a slow waltz aimed at taking a stake in the Australian iron ore producer, citing industry sources, but added that Chinese insistence on control had scuppered past deals. [ID:nPEK299891] (Reporting by Fang Yan; Writing by Edmund Klamann; Editing by Ken Wills)

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